Before signing the peace treaty with Israel, Sudan’s leaders first had to overcome three obstructions that threatened to suffocate and ruin the vast country.
By Oded Granot, ISRAEL HAYOM
The normalization agreement between Israel and Sudan is a success story for both sides, where there are no losers, only winners. Sudan, as a result of this treaty, received an economic lifeline of expunged debts worth $60 billion and a horizon that includes returning to the family of nations after being removed from the list of state sponsors of terror. Israel received much more than a shorter flight route to South America: an optimistic forecast for the domino effect and the crumbling of another brick in the wall of Arab hostility.
Khir Allah, one of the more important writers and intellectuals in the Arab world, wrote on Sunday that Sudan’s decision to normalize ties with Israel conveys a divorce from three obstructions that had suffocated this vast country and threatened to ruin it completely.
The first obstruction is the Islamic one. The lengthy period of time under the rule of the Mulsim Brotherhood and former tyrant Omar al-Bashir pushed Sudan toward religious fanaticism that included, among other things, providing refuge to al-Qaida and Osama Bin Laden, and providing military aid and training to Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists. Bashir’s dismissal led to the abolishment of draconian, Islamic state-like laws, such as, for example, executions based on charges of heresy to Islam. Prohibitions on alcohol imports were lifted, and female circumcision was banned.
The second obstruction was the efforts of regional powers, Turkey and Iran, to turn Sudan into a forward operating base to help them expand their spheres of influence. Severing ties with Iran and resisting Turkey’s efforts to build a base on the Red Sea paved the path toward relations with Israel.
The third obstruction was Israel’s image as a cancerous tumor in the body of the Arab nation. An apartheid state, whose main preoccupation was massacring Palestinians and plotting the best way to demolish the al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount. This negative image of Israel, which Bashir’s regime cultivated, gradually evaporated after his overthrow. Sudan, encouraged by US President Donald Trump, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, and UAE leader Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan, decided to alter course.
Khir Allah, the Arab author and intellectual, cautions that despite removing these obstructions, Sudan won’t succeed on its path to democracy and economic growth if it fails to overcome its historic afflictions, namely the divisions, disagreements and conflicts between its political parties and numerous tribes — which has always led to the rise of dictators and military strongmen.
And perhaps this is the time and place for one more warning on our behalf: The fact that thee more countries have joined the circle of peace with Israel is undoubtedly impressive and heartwarming, but we must bear in mind that at this stage, these treaties are with rulers, not peoples.
Many of Egypt and Jordan’s citizens still harbor a deep sense of hostility and hatred for Israel. In Bahrain, the majority of the population is Shiite and is therefore still largely influenced by Iran and opposes any deal with Israel. In Sudan, too, some political parties in the government believe the treaty with Israel is a “humiliating capitulation” to American and Israeli financial extortion.
Among the agreement’s detractors in Sudan are even those who claim that President Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the temporary head of Sudan’s Sovereign Council, pushed for normalization and removal from the terror sponsor list mainly to ensure his victory in the 2022 election. The reason: If he is elected president, Burhan could arrange immunity from allegations he was an indirect partner to the Darfur genocide.
The bottom line is a reminder that the peace agreements between Israel and the leaders of five Arab countries, and the others that could follow, God willing, down the road, are just the first step. True peace will be achieved only when the rulers of these countries finally uproot hatred of Israel and show their nations that the fruits of peace are theirs as well.